Trick or Treat: 10/31/04
We had only one group of trick or treaters (probably about 20 in that one group) and Sean chose to take his bath and go to bed rather than trick or treat. That was fine with both of us. He did help Ian cut the jack-o-lantern from the pumpkin he had picked out on his trip to the farm on Thursday. He also helped me season and bake the pumpkin seeds. He loves pumpkin seeds.
Busy Busy: 10/30/04
We spent most of the day running errands. We had to pay our rent on the storage place which meant a trip to the peninsula. With holiday trips coming up we ended up paying three months rent just so we won't have to worry about it until when we move out or stuff over winter break.
We also signed up Caligula for "cat camp" at Shamrock Ranch. Although there is a cat kennel near where we've moved we've had such a good experience with Shamrock Ranch that Ian wanted to take her here again. He will take her and pick her up while he's on vacation from Berkeley.
We did take a brief break at the Daly City library where Sean picked out a few books from their discard sale. I also found a couple of books for my friend in Wales.
Sean then wanted to play on the equipment at the playground that's in the same park as the library. The last time we were here he was too young for most of the equipment. Not this time. He was all over the climbing structures and sliding down the tallest of the slides. He had a lot of fun.
These dark morning commutes are over. Daylight savings time ends on Sunday morning so this was my last dark commute until next year. We've been putting Sean to bed a little early to get him ready for the time switch.
Graphing Silly Putty:My husband has an experiment to do for homework this weekend. He has to track the flow of a viscous fluid over a long period of time. His professor suggested Silly Putty so I had to pick up some for him at Walgreens today. This project brings back memories for me. I remember watching pools of silly Putty ook across the place mat on my grandmother's table when I was a kid.
Halloween Party: 10/28/04
I'm leaving work early today to attend the Halloween party at day care. Last year I missed the party because I was working on a horrible contract and the site redesign was late in launching. Rather than leave early to get to the party I stayed until the site launched so that I wouldn't have to return the next week. Working conditions were terrible. I'm very happy to not be working there now.
Sean's wearing the same costume as last year because I intentionally made it large. He'll out grow it by next year. So he's dressing as a ginger and white cat. Next year I think I'll make an owl costume for him. That's on the assumption that he'll still be nuts about owls by then.
Playing with Tony: 10/27/04
While Sean was at first put off by being associated with the youngest member of the day care, he and "Tony" are now good friends. In fact Tony was the topic of conversation this morning. Apparently Sean had a dream last night about playing with Tony and Gizmo. He was certainly eager to get to "day-school" as he calls it to play with Tony and "Nemo-doggie."
Lunar EclipseIf you're in North America you might see a total lunar eclipse tonight. In California it will start at 6:00 just as the moon is rising, peak at 9 and be done by about midnight. I'm looking forward to watching the start of the eclipse on the drive home. Last night we had a perfect view of the rising moon coming across the bridge and then going into the Hayward Hills. That's the fun of a commute that is almost completely East/West.
Finding Nemo: 10/26/04
There are two Nemos in Sean's life. There is first and foremost Gizmo the dog but Sean can't pronounce his name right for the moment and so Gizmo in Sean-speak comes out as Nemo-doggy. Anyway, Gizmo is the preschool's dog and is quite popular with the children.
Last night on the way home Sean fell asleep in the car. He was tired from being woken up early for school, playing hard and the fact that the sky was dark and rainy. When we got home and I had to wake him up, his first words were: "Where's Nemo. I saw Nemo-doggy. Where did he go?" Clearly he was dreaming about the dog on the way home.
The second Nemo in Sean's life is the Finding Nemo Splashy Songs Book. He loves to play the five songs over and over again but his two favorites are the ones that Nemo and Dore play.
We actually own a copy of the DVD but previous attempts at showing it to Sean haven't gone over well. Maybe he'll more interested in watching now that he's so attached to this book. The film is one of Pixar's best although I usually have to skip through the opening. It's just too sad for me.
Up Past My Bedtime: 10/25/04
I'm still reading Seabiscuit: An American Legend and today I'm paying the price for getting sucked in. I had stayed up too late anyway watching Kingdom Hospital on DVD but then to clear the theme song from my head I read a couple chapters of Seabiscuit. Bad idea for a person who needed to sleep! I stayed up until almost one in the morning!
The Boy Who Would Not Nap: 10/24/04
While I am thrilled that Sean is developing an affinity for the weekend sleep-in, today he did not want to nap and that made him a little grumpy in the evening. We did convince him to go to bed about twenty minutes early but he probably could have done with going to bed an hour or two early.
After making biscuits and coffee for Ian's parents and seeing them off for their drive home, we went back to our usual Sunday routine. Ian went to school to do homework. Sean and I went to Sulphur Creek. There doesn't seem to be any escaping that bit of the routine right now. Today we got to see the snakes even though there was another birthday party.
After lunch I put Sean down for his nap but he spent the first hour "reading" a book to himself. Then he slept an hour and was up by 3:30. Lately he's been napping until five or six on the weekends and I really expected him to do so today. He was acting tired enough to warrant a long nap.
Rainy Day Visit: 10/23/04
Ian's parents visited. They arrived Friday night. As it's been raining all day we haven't done much. We had a lovely breakfast out, a first for us in a long time. Sean was very well behaved. One time when the waiter came around with coffee refills, Sean held out his milk up and asked for coffee. He didn't get any but it sure made us all laugh.
We of course had to go to Sulphur Creek and I will be posting photographs from that trip later. We couldn't see the snakes because the museum was being used for a birthday party. Sean was not happy about that.
After lunch we lazed around the house as the rain storm blew in. We watched Firefly episodes, cleaned house and read. I finished reading The Winter Queen which ended up having a much tighter and interesting plot than I first thought it did.
Seabiscuit A Geography Lesson: 10/22/04
I'm currently reading Seabiscuit: An American Legend and while I am thoroughly enjoying it, I feel sorry for readers who are not familiar with the Bay Area. Hillenbrand in her enthusiasm to tell the story of Charles Howard and of course Seabiscuit, she neglects accurately state the locations of events. Readers might come away thinking that all of the Bay Area events take place in San Francisco. They don't. (Note, these comments are only about the book. I have not seen the film).
For instance, in her description of the early days of the automobile in one sentence she combines San Franciscan's distrust of the automobile with Stanford's decision to close the center of campus to cars. Stanford is 40 miles south of San Francisco and is still mostly closed to cars. It's a beautiful campus for bike riding and walking.
Later when she describes the beginning of modern day horse racing she mentions two "San Francisco" race tracks: Tanforan and Golden Gate Fields. While both are accessible from San Francisco (now via BART) neither is in "The City." Tanforan (now a shopping mall) is in San Bruno and Golden Gate Meadows is across the Bay in Albany.
Of course Hillenbrand is not the only author to blend all the outlying cities into a giant San Francisco metropolis. I've lost track of how many times I've seen Sausalito described as a coastal neighborhood of San Francisco. Just for the record, it's a short drive north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate bridge.
Strange Days: 10/21/04
Last night Ian and I rewatched Strange Days because Ian remembered liking it but couldn't remember much about the film. While watching we had a lovely discussion of cyberpunk cowboy noir, our name for that mixed up genre that usually takes place in the near future but has motifs that borrow heavily from Westerns and Film Noir. Usually it's the lone cowboy or fallen sheriff type who is going against the film noir gangster syndicate only to be foiled by a femme fatale.
Strange Days has all of these elements. The main characters are ex-cops and to further drive the point home, the B plot has the two rogue cops doing their own version of justice. There is the general lawlessness of the old west town where a good sheriff can't be kept until the end of the film. Faith as the femme fatale personifies Lenny's lost faith in the system and life in general. No longer a police officer, he'd rather peddle underground "clips" and live on the fringes of society. As with all good film noirs, never trust a woman who sings in a seedy bar or in this case, rave.
Other fine examples of this hybrid genre are:
In the Newsletter:My recent drawing, Morning Commute, was selected as the best image of the 2D gallery for the 3DCommune's October 20th Newsletter. I'm thrilled and honored. It was such an unexpected event.
Owls are not Fish: 10/20/04
I think most everyone will agree that owls are not fish but my son is under the impression that I think they are! This misunderstanding began when a friend of mine in Wales sent him pictures of owls via my email. I printed them out and Sean was thrilled.
The problem is that my son at age 2 doesn't really have any sense of geography. I suppose I should start teaching him how to read maps. So I've been telling him that those owls live in a country called Wales.
Blue Skies this Afternoon:Last night it started to rain when we went to bed. It was still raining a little when we got up. I got Sean up and dressed early as I had yesterday. We dashed to the car and managed to get him to day care on time and me to work on time as well. I was actually the first person to arrive. Had we left at our usual time, I would have been late to work because traffic was still thick, though not nearly as bad as yesterday.
Now the rain seems to have stopped and the sky is filled with beautiful puffy white clouds. There's still a nip to the air and I think we're expecting more rain later in the week.
Drowned Rat: 10/19/04
Even with leaving early I got to work nearly 40 minutes late. It took me two hours to go 20 miles in the rain. Sean and I saw five accidents, at least one downed tree and some flooding. I'm dreading the drive home. I can see Sean and me getting home at 7:30 or worse, 8:00. Ugh.
Javelin Throwing:I dreamt last night that I was in Rome for a post Olympics javelin throwing contest. Apparently the javelin throw hadn't been done in Athens and they were doing it now in an old castle (complete with sleeping dragon). The javelin throw was being done in a boiler room rather than out of doors.
On my way to the boiler room I either found or was given a book published in 1920. It was called Two Sisters: From Etna to Egypt. I knew I would have to register it with BookCrossing as soon as I got a chance. I don't think it had been previously registered.
Now We're Cooking: 10/18/04
Until yesterday I've never seen Sean spend more than half a minute watching anything on television. After his nap I stumbled upon something that completely captivated hima cooking show! I was flipping through the channels on one of those rare Sunday afternoons when I wanted to watch a little T.V. and I came across Bay Cafe. Sean took one look at the host and the chef cooking together and crawled onto my lap. He watched the entire episode, pointing out all the different things the two men were doing. I knew he liked to watch me cook but I had no idea he had learned so much! Or that he felt so passionately about cooking.
We got to bed earlier last night and I didn't cough. Sean slept in until 9 again which meant two wonderful hours of sleeping in for us. We woke to the sound of rain and the gurgling of our rain gutter as it runs right down our bedroom window.
A Quiet Day: 10/16/04
Sean slept in until almost 9 meaning he slept for almost 12 hours. He's clearly going through a growth spurt. I wish I had been able to enjoy the sleep in but I was up coughing nearly every hour last night. At about six I went upstairs to sleep and cough on the couch. There I actually managed a couple winks.
After a late breakfast we did our usual errands plus made a stop at Home Depot to see if we could find a bolt cutter. The employee we spoke to said that Home Depot doesn't sell them but their website shows that they do. We didn't manage to come home with one. We will try again later.
Before heading home for lunch we took Sean to see the owls at Sulphur Creek Nature Center. We couldn't see the snakes because of a birthday party so we spent most of our time with a very social Heech-Heech.
I've Begun Thinking About the Holidays: 10/15/04
This year I'm thinking about doing mostly hand made gifts. The internet provides many options for turning artwork into cool stuff: shirts, mouse pads, calendars and the like. Since I know potential giftees are reading, I'm not going to say any more on the subject.
Since my birthday I've been taking walks around the neighborhood where I work. I work right on the border where the industrial, commercial and residentially zones collide. Today on my walk into the residential area of southern San Carlos, I couldn't help but notice the redwoods that are still standing from back when Redwood City was a logging camp. I knew of a small group of them just two blocks from where I work but today as I scanned the horizon I noticed a dozen or so more groupings of these magnificent trees.
If I squinted and did a little creative mental editing, I could just see what these foot hills must have looked like a hundred or more years ago. Present day Felton in the Santa Cruz mountains is probably a good estimate of what the would have looked like if there were more remaining redwoods. The only difference is that the ground would be flatter with a gentle upwards slope heading west until Alameda de las Pulgas where things would start to get steep.
Five Way Stop:On my walk today I explored a funny street that looks more like a driveway than a street. It's El Sereno Drive at the corner of Elm and St Francis. It goes back into the center of the block, revealing a number of homes. In the center of the loop there's a communal park with lights, a bench, some grass and flowers. It's not as well tended as a city park but it's more welcoming. These houses face each other and are completely cut off from the rest of the neighborhood. El Sereno would make the perfect location for a Twilight Zone type story where someone goes down an oddly out step street only to find himself whisked back in time fifty years.
Today is Today: 10/14/04
Sean is learning the art of conversation. Now most nights he likes to ask me about my day and tell me about his. Yesterday mid conversation he took on a serious tone of voice. "Mama," he said, "today is" and he paused as if taking in the greater meaning of his revelation before continuing with, "today."
He also knows that there are a couple of dogs that come to work (Molly and sometimes Charlotte). Sean always has to ask about them. "Did you see the doggies, Mama? Did you play with the doggies?" But ultimately it comes back to owls. "I played with owls. Did you see any owls today, Mama?"
MojoWorld 3.0Pandromeda has announced the upcoming release of MojoWorld 3.0 and I'm both thrilled and sad. I'd love to upgrade to it but I'm not sure I can justify it in our already tight budget. It has some wonderful looking new features including better material control and vegetation. They've broken the program into standard and pro versions. I'd want the pro version even though I'm still learning how to use the Pro UI features.
Speaking of planetary exploration, there's a web site that has links to various satellites. You can pick one to see an image of the earth from orbit. Or you can put in the coordinates directly.
Minty Nail Polish? 10/13/04
I did my weekly walk to Walgreen's today only to find new chaos. All the sidewalks are still blocked and now most of the
driveway is torn up, save for a wee corner where they except all pedestrians and cars to park and funnel customers into the
store. All I wanted was three things: toothpaste, cough drops, and trash bags. While the first two were easy to find, the
trash bags were not in a logical spot. Aren't they normally kept with the other household items (cleaning supplies and such)?
Not here. Here they are kept in a combination row of picnic supplies, Christmas wrapping, Halloween decorations and feminine
As I was checking out I overheard a patron asking for the location of the breath mints. The checker pointed him in the direction of the nail polish!
Does Day Care Have Owls? 10/12/04
After a three day weekend I think my son thinks his life consists of breakfast, an hour or two looking at the owls at Sulphur Creek, lunch, a long nap, playtime, dinner, bath time, some book reading, and bed time. He was rather miffed when I told him we weren't visiting owls today because he had to go back to day care. He eventually quieted down for the ride but as we approached the day care he asked if the they had owls.
Tweaking by the SpeakerLast night I went to bed with a slight headache. This morning I woke to cold sweats, a headache and some nausea. I took my temperature and it came back slightly below normal. Then I realized I hadn't had any coffee yesterday nor caffeine of any sort. I don't normally drink much caffeine (certainly not compared to my husband). I drink about 100 to 150 mgs per day (that's about 1 cup coffee and 1 soda) and I'm having withdrawal symptoms. I'm feeling really lame.
Yes I Got Your Snakes (but You Can't See Them): 10/11/04
Today after a pancake breakfast, Sean and I went back to Sulphur Creek, it being Columbus Day and a holiday from school for Sean. While the birds were out and the owls were glad to see us again, the museum is closed on Mondays so no snakes or fish for Sean to see. He wasn't happy at all about this.
One Year AgoLast Columbus Day I was fired from Oracle as part of that massive layoff of Marketing. 300 of 1000 marketing employees lost their jobs. Part of my taking today off (rather than Ian staying home with Sean) is to celebrate that turn of events. With the whole PeopleSoft mess going on right now I'm glad I don't work there any more. If that merger ever goes through it's going to be a killing zone in both companies and the meager morale that's there now is going to plummet.
A Dam, a Man and an Owl: 10/10/04
After Ian left to do homework, Sean and I drove over to the Don Castro Regional Park. Actually we found it by accident. It appears to be a nice man made swimming hole in the summer time but right now the swimming hole is drained and the park is closed. I had hoped to take Sean to the nearby play ground but place is being renovated (which it needs) so we can't play there. On our drive back from Don Castro I didn't find any other parks with slides so Sean suggested that we "go see owls and snakes." So we went back to the Sulphur Creek Nature Center.
This weekend I've gotten lots of reading done. I finished reading Peter Sellers: The Mask Behind the Mask, What Should I Do with My Life, Blair's Attic and The Wizard of Pigeons. My favorite among the lot is Blair's Attic which was among those four crates of books I rescued a year ago.
Special Assessment: 10/9/04
Ian went to the meeting HOA meeting today and it wasn't exactly good news. The siding project is going to cost a hell of a lot more than the HOA thought it would. We will have to vote for a special assessment in November. If it passes we will have to pay double what we are currently paying. While Ian and I can just afford it there are a lot of other new home buyers who have 100% financing, nothing in savings and are barely making ends meet as is. I feel sorry for them.
Meanwhile...While Ian as at the meeting (which lasted two hours), Sean and I did my usual Saturday run to the post office. He found the experience very boring but managed to behave himself well enough. He amused rather than annoyed the other patrons.
Afterwards when it was clear that Ian wasn't back from the meeting Sean and I headed to the Sulphur Creek Nature Center. The younger of the two owls clearly recognizes Sean now and started calling to him ("Heech Heech!") as we approached. He even flew to the nearest tree to the bench to get a better view of Sean.
Funny Spam: 10/8/04
I don't normally read the spam I get but I received one pretending to be from George Bush. It was funny enough that I've actually made a copy of it. It lists out his "qualifications" and "track record." Read the email for yourself.
1667 Words a DayNovember is National Novel Writing Month. This year I've joined Nanowrimo.org to see if I can write a novel in a month. I've chosen a short story I wrote over the summer but haven't published as the starting point. It's about a dog walker.
The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That comes about to 1667 words a day. Actually it doesn't divide evenly but that's not the point. It comes down to roughly 5 pages of typed double spaced pages a day.
Night Terrors Redux: 10/7/04
It's been more than a year since Sean had his last round of night terrors. Last night he caught us completely off guard with
two night terrors. I think the first one started as a nightmare because he was briefly awake but after some cuddling upstairs
he fell asleep in Ian's arms and started crying again.
I Just Want a Sanding Block:Kitty-corner from where I work there's a small hardware store. As I've started to get the upstairs bathroom ready for painting because Ian's busy with school I went in there to get a sanding block. Last weekend I spackled the holes from putting in the new medicine cabinet and I need to sand the walls down before I paint. Anyway, it should have been as simple as walking in, finding the block and purchasing it, but no, the store's owner decided I wanted to hear about his recent accident.
As he's ringing me up he starts mid story as if we've been having this conversation before and we want to continue it. Keep in mind I've never been in the store before. He goes on to tell me about how he's been on the phone with his auto insurance because of the accident he had on the 30th.
He's annoyed because the auto insurance person keeps asking him if he needs a rental even though he says the car is "drivable" with only "moderate" damage. He's also annoyed because the inspector wants to inspect the car at the auto body shop (on the same corner as our building so not that far away).
I think that both assumptions that the insurance company made are reasonable. If my car was in an accident I would want a rental to drive while I got my car fixed! But I didn't say anything. I just nodded politely and waited the ten minutes it took for him to tell me this story.
Another Slow Start: 10/6/04
Today is shaping up to be one of those slow days with the big and panicked finish at the end. At least I had the morning to do a lot of archival work.
Speaking of Slow Starts:The books I'm reading right now for BookCrossing have been quite easy to read, at least they should be, but they've taken me longer than I'd like. I had hoped to be done with both Dancing in my Nuddy-Pants and the Paisley Shawl and well into the Man Behind the Mask but I'm not. I'm only completely finished with Nuddy-Pants, three quarters done with the Paisley Shawl and one chapter into the Peter Sellers biography.
Part of the slow-down is that I've been cooking a lot more from scratch. Cooking from scratch is cheap. It also keeps Sean entertained while we wait for Ian to get home. But the cooking does take time away from reading (even for a speed reader!) and I'm not making up the difference by staying up past my bed time.
Home From the Vinyl Cafe: 10/6/04
I highly recommend Home From the Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean. The book is well deserving of the humor award. My favorite stories came early in the book, one of them being "Turkey" which starts off both the book and the Winter section. The description of the turkey before it was roasted had me and my husband howling with laughter. Another favorite is the one about the birthday party, especially the scene where Dave tries to frost the cake while it is still warm. My husband recently made the same mistake when he was frosting my birthday cake. I think there is enough depth to this collection of stories that most any one can come away with a favorite story or at least a favorite scene.
I Want it to Rain: 10/5/04
I woke up at three in the morning with a storm headache. Sometimes when the pressure drops I get a sinus headache. I've had this one since this morning, although it is finally going away. The partial sun that was promised has not materialized. It's still dark, cold and windy. I just wish it would rain to break the weather stalemate.
Election Time:The U.S. presidential elections are a month away. Right now the two candidates are neck and neck in the polls. If you haven't registered to vote or have moved and need to reregister, please do so now. Time is running out. Different states have different deadlines to register. Your local county clerk can answer any questions you might have about registering or voting. I will be voting for Kerry.
Just the Façade Ma'am: 10/4/04
I took my walk to Walgreen's to purchase a Thank You card (and to see how the remodel is coming). The outer walls are now
completely torn up or covered with wood and there is one of those wooden bat cave walk ways through the construction into
the building. The pharmacy is open and 3/4 of the stock has been moved to their new spots.
After breakfast Sean and I went to the Sulphur Creek Nature Center for our weekly trek to see the owls. Today we learned that one of the two Great Horned Owls is named Boris but I don't know if that's the old one or the young one.
The young one that we have nick named "Heech Heech" took particular interest in Sean. I think he did because Sean was playing in the leaves as he was talking to the owl. The leaf noise must have sounded like a mouse walking through the debris. The young owl flew down to the ground to watch Sean sort through the leaves, completely fascinated.
Heech Heech though lighter than Caligula by about 5 pounds, is larger than she is. He also has the largest set of claws on any bird his size I've ever seen. The literature on the cage says that Great Horned owls have claws as large as a bears. While that might be a bit of a stretch, they are certainly a close second!
You Are Not My Sunshine: 10/2/04
Ian and I took Sean to the Chabot Science Center today. The person who checked us in signed us up for two different Imax shows, one called Sunshine that was for the "under 5 crowd" and one called "Sky Dragons" about Chinese astronomy. I politely suggested that we probably wouldn't be able to see either of them because Sean really isn't into watching TV or movies but he gave us the tickets anyway. As we're members, the shows don't cost anything extra, it's just something put on our tickets so we can get into see the shows.
We took Sean to see the Sunshine one and it consisted on a creepy animated sun talking to the audience trying to get audience participation. Sean took one look at him, jumped into my lap and screamed, "No, don't do that!" Thankfully the Sunshine was rather quick. The Sky Dragons one was set to start right after Sunshine but we chose to let Sean see the exhibits (which is why we had come in the first place).
Sean liked best the planet exhibits. There's a spinable Neptune and a spinable Jupiter that make interesting vortex patterns. He loved those. He also enjoyed going into and out of the Mars exhibit through the orange plastic strips. Ian liked the moon landing stuff the best. They have various simulators and replicas from the moon landings.
I liked the Chinese exhibit that goes with the Sky Dragons movie but we didn't stay in that exhibit very long because Sean was getting tired, hungry and cranky. We can go back to see this exhibit another day when Sean is better rested.
Back Seat Driver: 10/1/04
Last night while driving home I made a quick lane change to avoid being pushed onto a freeway I didn't
want to be on. It was one of those lane changes that has to be made in bumper to bumper traffic. My son
didn't like the maneuver at all. He shouted from the back, "No mama! Don't do that. Scary!" I
normally avoid the middle and slow lanes on the bridge to avoid being shuttled onto either the north
or south bound 880 but yesterday we had taken a different route the bridge and traffic had been too thick
all the way across to get out of the middle lane. Tonight I will take our usual route home to avoid those
For Whom the Bell Doesn't Toll:The Hillbarn theater in Foster City is missing a 300 pound bell according to the Daily Journal. Police are keeping watch on eBay to see if it comes up for bid but are hoping that it was taken as part of a local prank. I did a quick search of eBay for fun. There are three bells of similar make but two of them have different inscriptions in the picture to rule them out. The Hillbarn theater bell belonged at one time to the Grace Chapel that was razed to make room for highway 92.
The bell's inscription reads:
Any info about the bell should be phoned into: 650-349-6411
Where You Going to Go When the Volcano Blows?
Mount St. Helens erupted again after 18 years of relative quiet. It had been acting recently so geologists weren't surprised when it erupted today. From the initial reports they were also better prepared for the event than the they were for the huge event in 1980. The volcano last erupted in 1986 but I think most everyone remembers the 1980 event.